There are times I make a request for a set of samples expecting I know which one I will think is best just from the description. I’ve come to realize my track record in being correct is pretty poor. Some of that might be anticipation versus a purer experience in which a new fragrance gets the chance to surprise me. Such was the case with the set of samples from Atkinsons London The Contemporary Collection.
What drew mw to this collection was the statement on the Atkinsons website saying they wanted “transform the familiar into the fabulously unfamiliar”. As I looked at the perfumes in the collection the one which caught my eye was Lavender on the Rocks. Perfumers Christine Nagel (pre-Hermes) and Violaine Collas wanted to make an icy lavender cocktail. I liked it as it really pushes the herbal character of lavender. The thing was the strip I kept returning to over and over was not Lavender on the Rocks; it was The Big Bad Cedar.
It is hard not to giggle at the name as I keep seeing an anthropomorphic tree threatening to huff and puff and blow your flowers away. Despite that imagery perfumer Maurice Roucel seemed less interested in making the cedar bombastic. Instead what he produces in The Big Bad Cedar is a remarkably refined version of cedar which seems very stiff upper lip British.
M. Roucel shows this is not Big Bad territory with the top accord. He blends a lovely cardamom-centric whisper using lemon and lavender to caress it. I am very fond of cardamom on top and this is just classically composed. A great opening. The heart sets the stage for the title note to appear as M. Roucel uses clary sage to take what the cardamom started into a greener direction. The sage becomes a prelude to the green woodiness inherent in cedar. The other note in the heart, broom, is used to anticipate the clean; the desiccated sweet dustiness is perfectly positioned. M. Roucel uses a classic Virginia cedarwood essence. As it becomes apparent it reaches out to both the clary sage and the broom to form a harmonic which captures all there is to see in cedar. M. Roucel grounds this with moss and cashmeran in the base.
The Big Bad Cedar has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Despite the Big Bad name and the desire of The Contemporary Collection to make the “familiar…unfamiliar” this perfume is completely classic in its construction and the way it felt when I wore it. There are others in this collection which do live up to their fanciful names and desire to be different. The Big Bad Cedar is not one of them and that is not so bad.
Disclosure; this review was based on a sample provided by Atkinsons London.